I was a senior in Dallas at Thomas Jefferson High School, and also the photographer for our year book. W.T. White, the school superintendent, announced anyone could take the morning off that Friday to greet the president and Mrs. Kennedy at Love Field.
On the basis of my “credentials” as the school yearbook photographer, which I used to get courtside and sidelines to take athletic pictures, that’s all I needed to get a badge to cover the event which states: “President Kennedy’s Visit to Dallas, November 22, 1963” And in large blue italic letters “PRESS”. Which I still have.
With that badge, I had no difficulties getting on the Air Force One-side of the fence to mix with the Secret Service, members of the media, the reception dignities and the Kennedys to take pictures of the arrival and the beginning of the motorcade.
As I was beginning to leave for the luncheon site and speech, some girls from my school called me over to the fence. They asked if I could give them the petals from the bouquet of roses Jackie received upon arrival, but fell off while she and JFK were at the fence to shake hands with the throng, and they fell to the tarmac. (Which, of course, I did, Maybe a date later.)
On the way to the luncheon, the rock-‘n-roll radio station the guys I were listening to suddenly stopped in the middle of a song. After several seconds of “dead air,” we had almost changed stations, when the station suddenly began playing classical music. Which was unheard of!
Then, the station manager came on and said something had happened during the motorcade and the President was being rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
We drove as fast as we could to the hospital. The President’s limo was off to the side and both he and Governor Connelly were in emergency rooms.
We decided to go back to school, where the hallways were silent except for the sounds of the unfolding events being broadcast in every classroom over the PA system.
Finally, C.C. Smith, our principal, announced that classes were over and everybody could go home. No one, of course, was excited about a free afternoon, too.
George Sickler, Mesquite, Texas
George Sickler, working on Thomas Jefferson year book for 1963-64